First off, the term “brother” had several meanings in the bible, as such it did not exclusively refer to the strict conventional use of the term, it also meant “Cousins” (1 Chr. 23:21–22), Kinsmen (Deut. 23:7; Neh. 5:7; Jer. 34:9, 2 Kgs. 10:13–14), even “Nephew” and “Uncle” had the word “Brother” used in their place (Gen. 14:14, Gen. 29:15)
There was no word for “Cousin” in Hebrew and Aramaic as we have in English and other Germanic languages today. For this reason people who spoke and wrote in these languages often employed the easy general word “brother” to substitute for the more clumsy circumlocutions like “Son of my father’s brother”.
Even though the Greek language in which the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible) was translated had a separate word for “cousin” the translator still stick with “brother” since it would be risky to begin deciphering each context of the Hebrew usage of the word to assign their proper word.
MORE REASONS TO BELIEVE SHE DIDN’T HAVE OTHER CHILDREN
When the Angel of God told her “You will conceive and bear a Son” she replied “How can this be since I know not any man”? (Luke 1:34)
By the time Mary was giving this reply, she was already betrothed to Joseph. Normally, if she had the intention of having conjugal union with him, she’d have quickly accepted the Angel’s message, yet she didn’t. This goes on to prove the traditional belief that Mary had vowed perpetual virginity while she was serving in the temple as this was not uncommon at the time. If this were not the case, then her question to the Angel would make absolutely no sense.
Again, at the foot of the cross, remember Jesus entrusted Mary to the care of St John (John 19:26-27). It would be impossible for Christ to make such a statement if Mary indeed had other biological children. It rather makes more sense to hold, with the ancient Fathers, that those “brethren” mentioned (James, Joseph, Simon and Jude) were just his relatives.
Some people had believed that those were Joseph’s children from an earlier marriage, that he was a widower when he married Mary. But more recently, we now understand that these were actually Christ’s cousins. James in particular was the Son of another Mary wife of Clopas (who according to the second-century historian Hegesippus was the brother of Joseph, the foster-father of Jesus)
It may be hard to understand the exact relationship of Christ with all those named above, but one thing the Bible makes clear from what we have seen is that, no matter who these were, they were not biological children of Mary.
“His [Christ’s] origin is different, but his [human] nature is the same. Human usage and custom were lacking, but by divine power a Virgin conceived, a Virgin bore, and Virgin she remained” (Sermons 22:2 [A.D. 450]).
By GabrielMary Alimba